Here are psychologists’ tips for coping with post-election anxiety:
Take a break. Turn off the television and social media. Don’t follow the news every minute. “It’s OK to kind of pack this up and put it on the shelf,” said Jason Evan Mihalko, who advises absorbing the information in small doses.
Take care of yourself. Accept your feelings of fear and anxiety but don’t let them consume your life.
“Utilize those coping resources that have helped you through difficult times in the past,” advises Dawn Cisewski, president of the Massachusetts Psychological Association. That can mean going out for a walk, gathering with friends, doing yoga or deep breathing, or pursuing other calming activities.
“When we’re in the fight-or-flight response, we can’t engage in critical thinking,” Mihalko said. “It’s hard to develop plans.”
Take action. Find a way to make a difference. Join organizations, write letters, hold up signs, talk with friends, become engaged with a social movement, Mihalko advises. “When people feel most powerful and most centered is when they feel like they have a sense of agency,” he said.
Cisewski said it’s easy “to get stuck in the quagmire of what just happened. This is the reality. There’s nothing we can do to change it. What can I do now to be productive? . . . Being solution-focused and using this as an area for motivation is going to be important for a lot of people.”
Try to understand what happened. Cisewski said that while people in Boston are weeping, her friends in the Midwest are celebrating. “It’s important to recognize that we have a divided country and how best to change that,” she said.
Each side has scorned the other, whether it’s the right attacking immigrants and liberals, or the left ridiculing the denizens of “flyover country,” Mihalko said.
“We all need to be gentle with each other and curious about each other’s experiences,” he said.